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One-Time Potential Rival to China's Xi Draws Life Sentence

09 May 2018

Last month, Sun admitted to accepting more than 170 million yuan ($27 million) between 2002 and 2017, in both property and cash, when he held various posts across China.

Sun and his alleged associates were accused of accepting the money and assets in return for providing help to unspecified organisations and individuals, business operations and other matters, the court said. Shortly after the investigation was announced, Mr. Xi promoted a protégé, Chen Min'er, to take over as party chief in Chongqing. In October, the participants of the plenary session of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China approved the decision.

After the guilty verdict was read out at the First Intermediate People's Court of Tianjin on Tuesday morning, the once up-and-coming political star said that he had confessed to his crimes, regretted his criminal wrongdoings and would not be pursuing an appeal.

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Sun Zhengcai, a former top Chinese Communist Party official once considered a potential successor to President Xi Jinping, has been sentenced to life in prison after being convicted of taking bribes.

At a party meeting previous year, a senior official stated that Sun and other senior figures prosecuted in Xi's anti-corruption crackdown were "conspiring openly to usurp party leadership".

The Congress had confirmed the second five-year tenure for Xi, regarded as the most powerful leader of China heading the party, the Presidency and the military. Sun was seen by some as a candidate for leading the party in 2022.

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In March, China's parliament scrapped presidential term limits, paving the way for President Xi Jinping to rule indefinitely over the world's most populous country. Sun, 54, was abruptly removed in July from his post as party chief of Chongqing, one of China's most important cities.

The party rejects criticism that the anti-corruption campaign is about silencing political opponents and weeding out rivals as much as it is about stamping out graft.

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One-Time Potential Rival to China's Xi Draws Life Sentence